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BLOOD AND TREASURE September 16, 2007

Posted by wmmbb in Iraq Policy, US Politics.
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General Wesley Clark has an article in The Washington Post in which he reviews the situation faced by the US Military in the light of Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan and other conflicts. His observation are generic in that they apply to any country, although the sense of the United States as the exceptional nation is still held to be, now less tenuously perhaps in the face of the relative state of the buying power of the US dollar tied with the foreign debt, and a general sense of US decline. Fundamental military questions include what type of technology do you invest in given that even with the Pentagon cash book there are opportunity costs, and what type of training would be most beneficial. What are the lost opportunities involved in military spending and the suffering and deaths of military conflict, both military and civilian?

Clark reviews what might happen in a military stoush with Iran, and seems to foresees a situation arising, as other have not in which Iran have few options in response. He does not entertain the idea of the military-industrial-political complex, and the benefits, including economic benefits, that flow on from military involvements, which are seen idealistically as an instrument of statecraft. But he does accurately observe:

How tragic it is to see old men who are unwilling to talk to potential adversaries but seem so ready to dispatch young people to fight and die.

And then fails to notice from portion of society such young people originate, which perhaps in turn explains the lack of mass mobilization against the war as illustrated by the numbers in Saturday’s Washington march. But, of course, we should also be mobilized by the tragedy that is unfolding in Iraq before our eyes, and the unnecessary suffering being endured by the people of Iraq. The real test of political skill is as always to bring and create the conditions for enduring peace. Let us listen to somebody who knows, Wesley Clark is surely right about the “big lesson”:

War is the last, last, last resort. It always brings tragedy and rarely brings glory. Take it from a general who won: The best war is the one that doesn’t have to be fought, and the best military is the one capable and versatile enough to deter the next war in the first place.

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